WASHINGTON, DC, April 22, 2019 (ENS) – “Our magnificent planet is always ready for its close-up,” says the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA. Today, on Earth Day, April 22, NASA wants you to share how you see it.

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Planet Earth from NOAA’s GOES-east satellite, Mar. 31, 2014 (Image by Rob Gutro, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland)

NASA invites you to celebrate the planet with the agency’s #PictureEarth social media event. Post a close-up photo on social media of your favorite natural features, such as crashing waves, ancient trees, blooming flowers, or stunning sunsets.

Use the hashtag #PictureEarth and upload the photo on April 22. Be sure to include the location where the photo was taken in the text of your social media post.

On Earth Day, NASA shared some of its awesome images of Earth from space for inspiration. NASA staffers checked Instagram, Twitter and the NASA Earth Facebook event page to find your images and select photos from around the world to showcase later in videos and composite images.

Scientists use data from all of NASA’s instruments, and Earth-observing spacecraft from other nations, to build a picture of the planet that grows more and more complete over time.

On April 26, our next addition to our Earth-observing fleet, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3, is set to launch to the International Space Station. The new knowledge made possible by this fleet helps create solutions to important global issues such as changing freshwater availability, food security and human health.

For more information about NASA’s #PictureEarth, click here.

To see how we #PictureEarth from space, download the new NASA EARTH photo book featuring stunning satellite imagery here.

One Billion Participate in Earth Day

Forty-nine years ago, “On April 22, 1970, millions of people took to the streets to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development,” Earth Day President Kathleen Rogers reminds us on the Earth Day website.

“Earth Day is now a global event each year, and we believe that more than one billion people in 192 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world,” Rogers says.

This year’s Earth Day theme is taking action to protect species, many of which are vanishing at an unprecedented rate.

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The nonprofit International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN, is deeply concerned about ongoing and new threats to the Critically Endangered Tapanuli orangutan in Sumatra, Indonesia. (Photo courtesy IUCN)

Writing on the Earth Day blog, Mari Margil of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund expresses her concern that human actions “are ripping holes in the very fabric of life.”

“Today, we know that species extinction rates are occurring 1,000 times faster than natural background rates, which prompted the United Nations to warn that a sixth mass species extinction is in the cards,” writes Margil.

“Indeed, as the Earth Day Network explains in its Protect our Species campaign, the theme of this year’s Earth Day, “If we do not act now, extinction may be humanity’s most enduring legacy.”

“Our actions are ripping holes in the very fabric of life. This will only change with a fundamental shift in humankind’s relationship with the natural world. Fortunately, that shift is beginning to happen,” Margil says.

Today, a new movement is building that is transforming how the law treats nature, from being considered an item of property or commerce, to being recognized with legal rights of its own.

This movement to secure legal rights of nature means, for the first time, acknowledges that nature has the right to exist, the right to thrive, the right to regenerate, evolve, and be restored. And, importantly, that nature can defend and enforce these rights against threats.

The movement to recognize the right of nature represents a shift in the purpose of law and governance, from one of legalized destruction to one of protection.

The rights of nature were first secured in law in communities in the United States, beginning in 2006. Two years later, Ecuador became the first country to enshrine the rights of nature in its national constitution.

Today, there are rights of nature laws and court decisions to back them in India, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, and other countries. Tribal nations have enacted such laws, and more than three dozen communities across the United States also have done so.

The Extinction Rebellion

It’s Earth Day, but it’s the eighth day of Extinction Rebellion’s movement calling for political action to combat climate change. The activists have blocked major London thoroughfares since Monday, April 15 to publicize the need to curb climate change and stop species extinction. Over 1,000 people were arrested over the Easter weekend as they were cleared from three key areas of London by police, but not before they heard from young activist star Greta Thunberg of Sweden, who called for immediate action stop the “climate crisis.”

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Greta Thunberg of Sweden speaks to the Extinction Rebellion crowd in London, UK, April 22, 2019 (Photo by Felton Davis)

The Extinction Rebellion climate protest group has spread to 35 countries and has been organizing for this week of international civil disobedience
The group has been holding demonstrations since April 15 across the world. Here are just a few of those actions.

In Los Angeles today, a couple of activists from Extinction Rebellion LA took the Protect our Species message to Universal Studios Hollywood. The protesters marked Earth Day by climbing the famous globe outside Universal Studios building this afternoon.

Atop the globe, the activists glued themselves down and began waving green flags with their logo. Fire crews and police responded to separate the protesters from the sculpture.

On April 15 in Austin, Texas, three activists were arrested and held overnight for supergluing themselves to the front doors of JP Morgan Chase Bank, the largest investor in fossil fuels in the world, shutting the bank down.

In Paris, rebels blockaded the flagship H&M store, tipping tons of discarded H&M clothing outside the entrance. They also blockaded the Ministry of Agriculture and Ecological Transition at La Defense, as well as energy companies Total and EDF, and the French multinational investment bank Societe Generale.

In Oslo, Norway, rebels staged a funeral procession to the Norwegian Ministry of Finance. Demonstrators demanded that Norway halt plans to explore for oil in the Arctic and set an early date for the termination of oil and gas production.

In Washington, DC on April 16, eight people with Extinction Rebellion DC were arrested as they occupied the street in front of the Republican National Committee headquarters.

In New York City, on April 17 over 200 people gathered outside City Hall to demand urgent action on climate change and participated in mock citizen assemblies discussing solutions. Sixty-two people were arrested for closing the road and access to the Brooklyn Bridge with a human roadblock and die in. Two climbed nearby lampposts to drop banners saying “Declare Climate Emergency.”

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Extinction Rebellion die-in in front of New York City Hall, April 17, 2019 (Photo by Felton Davis)

In Madrid, Spain Extinction Rebellion activists blocked the headquarters of Spain’s top polluter, number 37 globally, Repsol, accompanied by a die-in and performance.

In Barcelona, Spain they created the Extinction Rebellion symbol out of activists and then marched to the main government square and read out the declaration, followed by a die-in.

A group of mountain climbers climbed the Pyrenees and unfurled a large banner atop a glacier of which only 35 percent remains compared to its size in the 1990s.

In Copenhagen, Denmark, activists held a “funeral for the future” march culminating in a peaceful sit-down protest outside the Danish Parliament.

In Adelaide, South Australia, rebels entered Parliament house while lawmakers were sitting and demanded the declaration of a climate emergency. They were forcibly removed by security, but the story made the evening TV news.

“Protesters dropped “dead” in the middle of the busy streets of Sydney, Australia on Monday to dramatize the dangers of catastrophic climate change.

Activists described this event as “a haunting and symbolic demonstration of what we will all face if we don’t drastically slash our carbon emissions in only 10 years: The ‘mass extinction’ of nearly all species on the planet – followed by the deaths of hundreds of millions of people, due to famine, water shortages, increased natural disasters, and ecological collapse.“

Trump Speaks of Water

From the White House, President Donald Trump paid lip service to the special day, saying in a statement, “Earth Day is a celebration of the abundant beauty and life-sustaining bounty of our natural environment. On this day, we reaffirm our responsibility to protect God’s wondrous creation for future generations.”

“Environmental protection and economic prosperity go hand in hand,” Trump said. “A strong market economy is essential to protecting our critical natural resources and fostering a legacy of conservation. My Administration is committed to being effective stewards of our environment while encouraging opportunities for American workers and their families.”

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Woman looks with suspicion at a glass of water (Photo by poppy)

In his Earth Day statement, Trump claimed to be “…improving the quality of life for communities across America by strengthening the security and reliability of our drinking water and accelerating spending on water infrastructure.”

But environmentalists are outraged over the Trump EPA’s decision in January not to regulate the chemicals PFOA and PFOS, both used for decades to make military firefighting foam and Teflon-coated cookware. It is estimated that 98 percent of Americans have these carcinogenic chemicals in their blood.

In a move condemned by public health experts, reporters, and American lawmakers, the EPA and White House blocked the release of a federal study on PFOA and PFOS last year over concerns that it would produce a public relations nightmare.

“It is absolutely unconscionable for the Trump administration to refuse to even start the process of setting a limit on these poisonous chemicals,” declared Erik Olson of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Communities around the country need swift, meaningful action from the government. Punting responsibility to the private sector and states is a total abdication of EPA’s role in protecting the American people.”

The Young Are Green

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom invited Sacramento children to the governor’s mansion today for an Earth Day educational event featuring demonstration projects on climate-smart cultivation and healthy soils.

Recology, San Francisco’s resource collection and recovery company, engaged local artist Sirron Norris to create a whimsical mural emphasizing recycling themes and lead an environmental workshop for local students. Kontent Films videoed the workshop and the unveiling of the Norris mural-wrapped recycling truck in front of City Hall.

In Vancouver, British Columbia, Youth 4 Climate Justice Now staged the 9th annual Earth Day Parade. Guest speakers, performers and diverse booths made it a fun day of learning about environmental issues, celebrating the work being done in communities around climate justice and learning how to shape a more sustainable world.

“It’s hard to take the first step towards making change, especially for youth, but this generation is the future and our choices will affect both us and generations to come, so we need to take action now if we still want a planet to live on,” says Rachel Chow, one of the organizers. “Throughout the years, society’s connection to nature has faded, but that connection will never disappear.”

“My whole life, I’ve been surrounded by both cities and nature and I can’t imagine a planet where that balance is broken,” said Chow. “I want to spread awareness about these problems because if our view on nature isn’t changed, I don’t even know if I’ll have a future to look forward to.”

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2019. All rights reserved.